family bankruptcy louisville ky

Filing for Bankruptcy Was the Best Decision for My Family

Filing for Bankruptcy Was the Best Decision for My Family

By Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

While the stigma and shame surrounding bankruptcy still exists, one woman is shedding light on the upsides of bankruptcy.

She shares her story of how it helped her and her young daughter get out of a dire financial situation.

In this article from businessinsider.com, Leah Campbell shares how unexpected medical debt was ruining her life.

She had always been financially responsible, but a devastating diagnosis (that led to surgery) left her with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Then she became a single mom, and thought she would never financially recover. But thanks to solid advice from three different financial advisors, she decided to file for bankruptcy.

family bankruptcy louisville ky

While the decision was very difficult at first, she says that it was the best decision she could have made for her and her daughter.

This is an encouraging, true story of how she went from feeling hopeless, to hopeful and confident, all because she filed for bankruptcy.

She not only got rid of her debt, but she was also able to build up her credit scores into the 700s while her bankruptcy was still on her credit report!

Leah is now a successful writer and editor, and living her best life.

To read her full story, click here

Want to find out if bankruptcy can help you too? I'm Attorney Tracy Hirsch, and I'm here to help. Set up your free consultation today!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

student loan freeze

The Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments has been Extended Again

The Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments has been Extended Again

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Here’s the latest update on the ‘repayment freeze.’

For the past two years, finances have been a difficult topic for many. Millions of Americans had their hours cut, or lost their jobs altogether due to the pandemic.

Even though there were some financial relief actions put in place, such as stimulus checks, many Americans are carrying the heavy weight of debt.

For those who have federal students loans, the load was made lighter, as a freeze on student loan payments was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, and is still in effect. This freeze allowed borrowers to stop making payments on their student loans.

Furthermore, their federal student loan balances did not accrue interest or penalties fees over the past two years, which means that the ‘freeze’ will not be counted against them.

Economists estimate that approximately $180 billion dollars in federal student loans have been put on hold over the past two years.

The freeze had been scheduled to end on May 1st, but the Biden administration has now extended it to August 31st. This means that federal student loan repayments don’ t have to start again until September of 2022.

President Biden made this statement last week, as he announced the extension:

“If [federal student] loan payments were to resume on schedule in May, analysis of recent data from the Federal Reserve suggests that millions of student loan borrowers would face significant economic hardship, and delinquencies and defaults could threaten Americans’ financial stability.” 

Federal student loan repayment is still being paused until the end of August 2022.

He stated that he believes the extended the freeze will benefit borrowers: “We are still recovering from the pandemic and the unprecedented economic disruption it caused…

That additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security, and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs.”

The Department of Education has stated that anyone who took part in the student loan repayment freeze will be in good standing when they resume their payments.

Additionally, borrowers will receive an invoice in the mail at least three weeks before their payment is due. If a borrower wants to resume auto payments, they will need to contact their lender to reinstate the automatic withdrawals.

People who have had a reduction in income may be concerned about no longer being able to afford their monthly student loan payments. If a borrower is in this situation, they can apply for a repayment plan that is based on their income and the size of their household.

While this may help financially, many families will still be struggling due to a reduction in income over the past two years. Some are behind on mortgage payments and car loans, while others have a high amount of credit card debt due to outstanding medical bills. Many families are struggling in both categories.

If this describes your situation, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help you get back on your feet.

It can consolidate your monthly credit card payments. medical bills, and other types of debt into one (lower) monthly payment, and can also help you protect your home and car. While federal student loans can’t currently be discharged in bankruptcy, they can be paid through the Chapter 13 repayment plan, which can keep you from defaulting on your loan.

If you qualify, you may be able to file a Chapter 7 to get rid of your credit card debt and medical debt completely, without having to do a repayment plan.

I’ve been a Louisville bankruptcy attorney for 22 years, and can let you know if bankruptcy will help your specific situation, and if so, which Chapter you qualify for. I offer free phone consultations 7 days a week, and those can be scheduled any time from 8 am to 8 pm.

If you’re ready for a fresh start, you can text or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593, or fill out the contact form below.

Whether you want to catch up on your mortgage to prevent a foreclosure, or you want to get rid of crushing card debt (or both), filing a Kentucky bankruptcy could possibly be the best decision you can make for you and your family.

Don’t wait — you could be a few steps away from a debt-free life, and all it takes is a text or phone call to get started!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

kentucky apartments

Will I Be Able to Rent an Apartment After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

Will I Be Able to Rent an Apartment After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you’re concerned about getting approved to rent an apartment while having a bankruptcy listed on your credit report, we have three tips that may help you secure a rental agreement.

If you filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Louisville, KY, and recently received a discharge from your bankruptcy plan, congratulations! You’re now on a path to financial stability where you have a fresh start.

Even though you’re enjoying your new-found freedom, you may have concerns about renting and leasing.

As you’re already aware, a bankruptcy filing stays on your credit report for several years (ten years for a Chapter 7, and seven years for a Chapter 13).

As a result, you may be worried about trying to rent an apartment since any potential landlord will want to run a credit check to see your payment history.

While it’s true that some landlords may initially be hesitant to rent to you if they see that you filed a Kentucky bankruptcy in the past few years, many of them will be will to rent to you if you do your homework upfront.

Here are five tips on how to secure an apartment after being discharged from your bankruptcy:

1.) Make sure you’re paying all of your bills on time and in full.

If you have monthly payment obligations (such as car payments), make sure that you’re paying those on time every single month, and also paying the full monthly payment amount.

For example, if your car payment is $275 a month, and it’s due on the 15th of every month, be sure to pay $275, and pay it a few days early (such as the 12th or 13th or every month).

If you were making your car payments on time while you were in your bankruptcy plan, and the landlord sees that you’re still making those car payments on time, it will show that you that you are responsible, and that you will most likely pay your rent on time.

Having late or missed payments on your credit report will be much more of a factor than having a bankruptcy on there.

Remember: Going above and beyond with your application could pay off in the long run.

2.) Be upfront and honest with a prospective landlord.

If you’re filling out a rental application, it’s important to let the landlord of the apartment complex know that you filed a bankruptcy, and have received a discharge.

Even though they’ll be able to see that for themselves on your credit report, it’s wise to let them know ahead of time (before they review your application), so that you can explain your situation.

Maybe you had a lot of medical debt from a car accident, or you lost your job and had to rely on credit cards, and as a result, needed to file for bankruptcy to get back on your feet financially.

If you can show that you’ve been making your payments on time, and explain that the bankruptcy helped you get through a tough time in your life, it’s more likely that they will see you as a person, and not just a name with a bankruptcy attached to it.

Also, be sure to emphasize that because of your bankruptcy, you no longer have any debt, and as a result, you have enough money to put toward rent. Since most people assume that bankruptcy is ‘bad’ (which is a myth), turning it into a positive can go a long way!

If you can explain that in person, it’s ideal, but if the landlord is unable to meet with you, be sure to write a well-written letter, and staple it to the top of your application (or add the letter as a PDF if you’re submitting your application electronically).

Additionally, tell your landlord upfront that you’re willing to pay first and last month’s rent in order to secure a rental agreement. This leads us to our next tip.

3.) Save up money for a security deposit.

To reassure your potential landlord that you will make your rental payments on time, let them know upfront (in person or in your letter) that you’re willing to pay your first and last month’s rent upfront as a security deposit.

This will prove to them that you’re serious about your rental agreement, and that you’ve prepared for it financially. When they see that you’re responsible, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to prove that you’ll be a reliable tenant, you’ll be more likely to gain their trust, and thus secure a rental agreement.

4.) Attach copies of your pay stubs with your rental application.

In addition the above mentioned tips, it’s a good idea to attach your past six months of paystubs so that the landlord can see that you have steady income.

They’ll be more likely to offer you an apartment if they can see that you make enough to be able to afford rent, and that your income situation is stable.

5.) Provide reference letters with your application.

Providing references, from people who can attest to your upstanding character, will go a long way. Kindly ask your employer, church leader, and/or past landlords to write a reference letter for you, outlining the ways that you are responsible and reliable.

This will help bolster all of the other documents that you attach to your rental application.

Most landlords will be really impressed with all of the work that you did ahead of time, and will be willing to consider approving you for a rental agreement.

Again, going above and beyond to reassure them that your bankruptcy actually helped you get back on your feet, and providing documents to prove that, will increase your chances of landing an apartment that you love.

If you or someone you know needs to file for bankruptcy, but you (or they) have concerns, I’m here to reassure you that filing a bankruptcy will not permanently ruin your financial future.

I’ve been a Louisville bankruptcy attorney for 22 years, and am here to tell you that it’s possible to rebuild your credit fairly quickly after being discharged from bankruptcy.

To find out if bankruptcy is what you need to get back on your feet, I offer free phone consultations. You can text or call my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about bankruptcy, check out the main menu on our homepage to find the specific topics that you’re interested in.

Just remember, no matter what’s going on in your situation, there’s always hope!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

Tax pic 2021

Here’s How Filing Your Taxes Can Lead to a Debt-Free Life

Here's How Filing Your Taxes Can Lead to a Debt-Free Life

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Do you currently have more debt than you can pay back? Your tax refund might help you get rid of all of it, even if your tax refund doesn’t cover the total amount of debt. Here’s how.

The past two years have been incredibly difficult (to make an understatement). On top of navigating the pandemic, many people in Louisville, KY, and across the nation, had their hours cut or lost their jobs altogether.

If that happened to you, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans had a drastic reduction in income due to sickness and or job loss, and (understandably) they turned to credit cards to help keep them afloat financially.

While credit cards can be incredibly beneficial to get through a brief financial rough patch, they can cause stress when used long-term, since the minimum monthly payments can become too much to bear as the total balance continues to increase.

These past two years have put people between a rock and a hard place by presenting then with two difficult decisions — they either don’t pay their bills, and lose their home, car, and other assets, or they use credit cards to stay afloat, but get to a place where they can’t catch up in paying them back, and possibly still end up in a situation where their home goes into foreclosure or their car gets repossessed.

It’s incredibly heartbreaking, and often seems like there’s no hope.

I’m here to tell you that there’s hope, and it can start with your tax refund. You might be thinking, “My tax refund is only $1,800, and I have $20,000 of debt. How can my tax refund help when it’ll barely take care of 10% of my debt?”

That’s a great question. If you had a small amount of credit card debt, you could just directly pay it off with your tax refund, but if your refund is way smaller than your total debt balance, it probably still seems like you’re stuck. The good news is that you can use your tax refund to file for a personal bankruptcy to help you get a fresh start financially.

Now you may be thinking, “How is that good news? Won’t bankruptcy ruin my life?” That’s a valid question, and the straightforward answer is: No, bankruptcy won’t ruin your financial future. In fact, it can help you save your house and your car, while also permanently getting rid of your credit card debt!

And in regards to your future credit, once you complete your bankruptcy plan, you can rebuild your credit within two years, as long as you pay all of your bills on time (such as your mortgage, car payment, utilities, and so on),

Now you might be thinking, “Okay, that’s a relief to hear, but how does all of this tie into my tax refunds?” That’s another great question. When filing for bankruptcy, there are filing fees and attorney fees that have to paid upfront in order to officially file your case with the Court. If you don’t have any extra money right now, you can use your tax refund money to pay for those fees.

Overall, using your tax refund money to cover the cost of filing fees for your Kentucky bankruptcy is a smart move when you consider the multiple benefits of bankruptcy:

1.) Your creditors will stop contacting you. Once you file for bankruptcy, your creditors are not allowed to call you multiple times a day or send harassing letters in the mail, and they can’t take money out of your paycheck or bank account!

2.) You can protect your home and your car. If your home is in danger of foreclosure, or your car is going to be repossessed, bankruptcy can put a stop to that!

3.) You get to keep all of the money in your paychecks. If a creditor has sued you and has obtained the right to take 25% of each of your pay checks (called a “wage garnishment”), bankruptcy can put a stop to that too!

If you’d like to find out if bankruptcy would help your specific situation, I offer free phone consultations, and can often do same-day appointments for those phone calls.

With 22 years of experience as a Louisville bankruptcy attorney, I can help you determine whether or not bankruptcy can give you the financial freedom you’ve been looking for.

The best part is that you can reach me directly on my cell phone. To set up a free consultation, please call or text me at (502) 435-2593, or fill out the contact form below.

If you’re ready to get on a path to a debt-free life, your tax refund may be the first step in getting you there, and I’ll help you take care of the rest!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

*Disclaimer: This blog post is purely informational, and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have debt and want to learn more about your options, meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Louisville, Kentucky to find out what would work best for you.

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

app pic

Do you use Venmo, Paypal, or Cash App? If so, this is a must read.

Do you use Venmo, Paypal, or Cash App? If so, this is a must read.

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Payment apps are a convenient way to send and receive money between family and friends. Instead of mailing a check for your niece’s birthday, you can send money to her Venmo account in a matter of seconds.

If you paid the bill for dinner with a friend, your friend can pay back their portion without using literal cash or paper checks. Thanks to technology, ‘IOUs’ have become much easier to settle.

While these apps are great for personal use, there are a different set of rules if you use them to send or receive any type of payments related to a business. This includes “side hustles.”

Any money that is received for goods or services is considered taxable income, and regardless of whether you report it, the IRS will keep of track of how much you’re receiving through PayPal, Venmo, and/or Cash App.

How does that happen? As of the beginning of this year (January 1, 2022), payment app companies are now required to report income to the IRS.

This means that any commercial transactions (i.e., payments that you receive for goods or services that you provide) that come to a total of $600 or more during the year, are going to be reported (by the app companies) as taxable income.

Up until this point, payment app companies were only obligated to tell the IRS when an individual had more than 200 commercial transactions a year, and even then, the total amount had to be at least $20,000 or more.

This big change is part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and was signed into law due to a bill that was passed in March of 2021. The bill was a response to the changes that came about due to the pandemic.

On the IRS website, they explain how to report income that you receive from credit and debit card transactions, which includes mobile apps.

The new tax rules could affect the payments you receive through apps.

Now that the tax rules have changed, Venmo, Cash App, Paypal, and other payments apps have to “file and furnish” a 1099-K form for any individual who receives more than $600 in a year for business-related transactions.

Some people have been concerned about these changes since they use these payment apps to repay a friend who covered the cost of a meal, or to send birthday money to relatives.

Thankfully, this new tax law only applies to payments that are made for goods and services (not personal transactions). For example, if you operate a dog grooming business, and people pay you for your services through PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App, those charges are taxable income.

On the contrary, if your brother bought food for a family gathering, and you want to split the cost and pay for 50% of the food bill, you can send him a payment through one of those apps, and it won’t be considered taxable income for him.

You may be wondering how these payments apps will know the difference. PayPal and Venmo provide a way to distinguish whether a payment is a commercial payment or a personal payment. A user can choose between those two categories when sending a payment.

Additionally, the user can add a note as well, such as “reimbursement for groceries” or “reimbursement for dinner” to show that they are paying someone back for a personal expense.

All in all, the IRS is cracking down on tax evasion when it comes to ‘side hustles.’ If you are providing any type of goods or service (even if you’re not officially an LLC), you still have to report that as taxable income since it’s business-related.

Even if you use a payment platform that allows money to go directly into your checking account (such as Zelle), you are still required to report any commercial transactions to the IRS.

Zelle is not required to report to the IRS or provide a 1099-K form since they’re technically not an app (they’re part of online banking systems), but regardless, you have to report any business-related income that you receive through Zelle when you file your taxes.

So moving forward, be sure to select the proper payment category, and add a note to clarify whether the transaction is personal or commercial.

If your payments in PayPal, Cash App, and Venmo are always related to personal items, such as dinner and movies, you and your friends and family can rest assured that those payments won’t be taxed.

If this information has been helpful, please feel free to share the link to this article to spread the word!

All the best,

Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

Do you have an overwhelming amount of debt? I can help! Fill out the form below, and I'll call you to discuss your options for relief.

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

house damage

5 Things You Should Do If Your Home Was Damaged by the Tornado in Kentucky

A Vital Checklist: 5 Things You Should Do If Your Home Was Damaged by the Tornado in Kentucky

By Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

The recent tornado has brought devastation to many Kentucky families, and my heart goes out to them during this difficult time. If you’re one of the many people who have lost their home or have damage to their home, I am so sorry that you’re going through this.

I can only imagine the stress and heartache that you’re experiencing as you try to figure out what to do next.

Losing a home not only involves grieving the loss of your belongings, but also involves grieving the loss of memories. So be sure to show yourself grace and compassion during this time as you work through those emotions.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the thought of reporting the damage (and the subsequent paperwork that will be involved) when you’re working through the shock of what has happened.

I’ve put together a concise list that will hopefully help streamline that process, and reduce the stress on the technical side of things. If you’re a home owner and you have home owner’s insurance, it’s important to make a claim right away so that you can get the coverage that you need.

If you’re unsure how to approach it, here is a checklist that includes helpful tips and suggestions:

1.) If your house has been damaged, document the damage, and report it to your insurance company immediately. Take photos and videos of anything that needs to be repaired: your roof, broken pipes, water damage and mold, and anything else that was damaged by the tornado. Send the photos and videos to your homeowner’s insurance company.

Your insurance company will most likely need to come do an in-person inspection of all the damage, but with proper evidence and documentation, they may be able to expedite your claim.

To prevent further damage to your home in the meantime, you can make reasonable temporary repairs, but don’t make permanent repairs until you’ve been directed to do so by your insurance company.

Be sure to keep the receipts for items that you purchase in order to prevent further damage (i.e. purchasing a dehumidifier for a flooded basement in order to prevent mold, etc.).

Remember: When filing a claim, document everything!

2.) Find a reputable contractor to obtain an estimate of the damage. This could speed up the process if the insurance company is unable to do an inspection right away.

Providing them with photos, videos, and an estimate of what it would cost to repair the damage might even allow you to bypass the inspection altogether if the adjuster has enough details from the documentation that you send.

Please be aware of scams regarding storm damage repairs. Only use licensed and insured contractors, and be sure to check references. Also, don’t give a contractor any money upfront.

Your insurance company has to provide written consent to do the repairs, and when they do, you should get a written agreement from the them stating that they will reimburse you for the full amount that was quoted by the contractor.

Additionally, be sure to obtain a written contract/agreement from the contractor before the work starts.

As a side note, in regards to estimating damage, that may also include food that you will have to throw away due to power loss. If you don’t have electricity, and you have a freezer full of food, your insurance policy might cover that, so be sure to provide that inventory, and ask if that will be covered.

3.) When you file your insurance claim, be sure to ask about the A.L.E. The A.L.E. (aka ‘Additional Living Expense’) claim will provide coverage for temporary lodging (such as hotels and trailers) if your home is too damaged too live in, or if the entire structure is no longer there due to the tornado.

If you and your family don’t want to stay in a hotel, and you have an extended family member or friend who has offered to let you stay with them right now, some insurance carriers also provide funds that you can give to your generous host.

Those funds would be used by your family or friend to cover the extra cost of food, and the added expense on their electric bill and water bill (and any other utilities), since those costs will go up with additional people living in their home.

4.) Be sure to put all requests in writing. Whether it’s an email or a letter, be sure to send all requests to your insurance company in writing.

Even if you talk to an insurance adjuster over the phone, be sure to log that phone call (write down the date and time), and also send an email to the claims department summarizing what was discussed.

When you’re making a request to your insurance company, be very clear in what you’re asking for and what you need, and also explain why you need those things.

For example, if you have two deep freezers full of food that you lost, be sure to plainly state that you would like a reimbursement for the food since all of it is now spoiled, and provide them with photos and a total estimate of what that food was worth.

5.) If your insurance company is giving you a hard time, you have options. If your insurance company is refusing to cover things that are supposed to be covered under your current policy, be sure to ask to speak with a supervisor, or even a regional manager if necessary.

Don’t be afraid to go up the ‘chain of command’ if you’re not getting the help that you need.

Even though this is frustrating, try to remain calm, and kindly state that you are trying to work collaboratively with the adjuster, but are being denied coverage for damage that is included in your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Be sure to log these phone calls, and also send letters and/or emails stating the date and time that you called, the name of the person you spoke with, and why you called.

If you’re still not getting anywhere with your insurance company, you can call the Kentucky Department of Insurance. They are a government agency, and you can file a complaint. There are three ways that you can file a complaint (online submission, fax, or regular mail):

> You can fill out an online form electronically (which is the fastest, easiest way). Click here to get started.

> You can print out a paper form, fill it out by hand, and then fax it to (502) 564-6090. Click here to print the paper form. 

> If you would rather mail the paper form (instead of faxing it), send it to this address:

Kentucky Department of Insurance

Division of Consumer Protection

P.O. Box 517

Frankfort, KY 40602-0517

If you have questions, you can call them at (502) 564-6034, but please note that they do not take verbal complaints over the phone. All formal complaints must be in writing (via the online form or the paper form).

                                            **********

If your home has been damaged, but you’ve had a lapse in your insurance coverage, or your policy doesn’t cover all of the damage that has occurred, please know that there is still hope. If you’ve incurred a substantial amount of debt due to the tornado, there are ways to get help.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance from the government or from non-profit organizations depending on your financial needs.

If you try those options, and find out that you are not eligible, or that their assistance won’t cover all of your debt, bankruptcy might be a viable option to protect you from being sued by your creditors — and it would also help you discharge your debts to get a fresh start financially.

If you want to ask questions about any debt that you have as a result of the tornado, I can provide a free assessment to help you. You can text me or call me directly on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593. I am available 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm EST.

As you continue to work through this difficult time, please know that there are people who care, and who can help you. If you need emotional support, you can call or text ‘The Disaster Distress’ hotline at 1-800-985-5990, and you can click here to get more information from their website. 

Remember to take things one day at a time — you will get through this. Together, we are Kentucky strong.

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Kentucky Bankruptcy Attorney

Want to talk about your debt options? I'm ready to help you.

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

personal loan louisville ky

4 Ways to Pay Off a Personal Loan Quickly

4 Ways to Pay Off a Personal Loan More Quickly

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you have a personal loan or a credit card that you want to pay off quickly, here are four outside-of-the-box ways to do it!

If you’re making monthly payments on your credit card or personal loan, you may be thinking that there’s nothing that you can do to get the balance to $0 a little faster. While there are ways to pay it off sooner than you had planned, it’s important to understand the benefits of doing that.

First, you’ll pay less in interest, which in turn, allows you to put that hard-earned money toward household expenses. Second, when your balance goes down, that can help increase your credit scores by lowering your credit utilization ratio.

Choosing to make small changes to your repayment approach can help you get rid of your debt faster. Here are four unique ways to achieve that:

1.) Add a ‘booster’ payment. One way to ensure that you’ll pay off your loan faster is to make a second, smaller payment every month. For example, let’s say that you get paid every two weeks (on the 1st and 15th).

If your minimum amount due on your credit card is $250, and if it’s due on the 2nd day of every month, you could pay $250 on the 2nd day of the month, and then pay $50 on the 16th day of every month.

That way, you’re still technically making your monthly payment on the 2nd, but you’re adding a “booster” payment on the 16th. So instead of paying $250 total per month, you end up paying $300.

When paying an extra $50 a month, you’re making your balance $600 lower at the end of the first year, than it would be if you were only paying the minimum payment every month.

The booster payment can be helpful if money is tight between paychecks, and if you can only afford to pay the minimum payment at the beginning of the month (or whenever it’s due).

Remember: Paying off personal loans more quickly saves you lots of money on interest.

2.) Put any surprise cash toward your debt. Do you have an aunt who sends you a random check for $100 just because she loves you? Did you recently receive cash for your birthday? Do you get quarterly bonuses at work? If so, it’s good to put that extra money toward your debt.

While it may be tempting to spend it on clothing or electronics, unless you have an immediate need (like a car or home repair), those generous money gifts should be added to your ‘booster’ payment.

3.) Round up your minimum monthly payment. If doing booster payments seems too hard to remember, an alternative is to round up your monthly payment.

For example, if your minimum monthly payment is $249.76 a month, paying an even $300 will have the same effect as the booster payment. This way, you’re still paying more than the minimum, and this works well if you have extra wiggle room in your budget from your first bi-weekly paycheck.

4.) Refinance your loan or do a balance transfer. If you have good credit scores and a solid payment history (i.e., no late or missed payments), there’s a good chance that your lender might be willing to refinance your personal loan so that you can decrease your APR.

The downside is that the payback period may be extended (for example, you may go from a 36-month loan to a 48-month loan), so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before committing to refinancing.

If you have a credit card balance with a high APR, and your lender won’t negotiate to decrease it, you could transfer the balance to a new card that offers 0% interest for the first 12, 14, or 18 months. You should only do this if you know that you can pay off the total balance (or most of it) by the time the introductory period ends.

For example, if you have a $2,200 balance, and your APR is 24.99%, you’ll add on about $550 in interest over a year’s time.

So if you want to pay it off in 12 months, you would have to pay $183 a month plus $45 a month in interest, which is a total of $228 a month! If you transferred that balance, you would only have to pay $183 a month if your 0% introductory rate was 12 months or more.

Again, you’ll only get approved to open a new card to do a balance transfer if you have good credit and a solid payment history, so be sure to weigh those factors!

Do you have any additional tips on how to pay off a personal loan faster? If so, please share them in the comment section of our Facebook post!

If you have multiple personal loans and/or credit cards with high balances, and you’re struggling to pay the minimum monthly payments and are being sued by your creditors, filing for bankruptcy could help you. You might be able to pay back less than what you owe, plus stop any lawsuits.

If you’d like to learn more about this option, you can text me or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

I offer free consultations to help you determine if bankruptcy can help you with your debt. Whether you’re able to pay back your personal loans on your own, or need protection through a bankruptcy plan, give yourself a gift this holiday season that you can’t put a price on — financial freedom!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

Are you struggling to pay the minimum monthly payments on your credit card bills and personal loans? I can help you. Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

bankruptcy mental health

3 Ways That Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Mental Health

3 Ways That Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Mental Health

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Debt not only affects your financial stability — it can negatively impact your emotional well-being too. Here’s how filing for bankruptcy can greatly improve your mental health and reduce your stress levels.

If you currently have an overwhelming amount of debt – to the point that it hinders you from being able to pay all of your monthly bills (car payment, mortgage, insurance, groceries, etc.) – chances are, you’re feeling depressed and anxious.

When you’re only able to pay the minimum due on your credit cards each month, and you’re basically just chipping away at the accrued interest (and haven’t even touched the actual balance), that causes an incredible amount of stress.

You may be thinking that your situation is hopeless, and that you’ll never be able to rid yourself of this overwhelming anxiety. If that’s how you’re feeling right now, I want you to know that I’m sorry you’re struggling.

I also want to tell you that I have some words of encouragement: Your situation isn’t hopeless, and you can achieve financial freedom without having to win the lottery.

How is that possible? You can lower your large monthly payments on your credit card bills and medical bills to make those payments much more affordable, or in certain cases, you can get rid of your debt altogether by filing for bankruptcy.

Now I’m assuming you’re thinking that what I just said isn’t very encouraging. You may be asking, “Isn’t filing for bankruptcy shameful? Won’t I permanently ruin my credit if I do that??”

As an experienced bankruptcy attorney who’s been in practice for 21 years, I’m here to tell you that the answers to those questions is a resounding “no.”

In spite of the myths, there’s no shame in filing for bankruptcy, as it’s a legitimate and legal way to obtain a fresh start and financial stability. It’s a right that has been given to every American – the right to be set free from the chains of overwhelming debt.

This right to file for bankruptcy not only gives you the option to make lower monthly payments (or to get rid of your debt altogether without making any payments), but it also protects your home, car, and the money in your bank account so that your creditors can’t take those things from you.

As you may already know, if you go months in a row without making payments on your credit card bills, medical bills, and so on, the creditors (the companies and/or banks who loaned you the money) can get permission from a local judge to take up to 25% of your paychecks, foreclose on your home, repossess your car, and more.

When that happens, it creates an unbearable amount of stress for the debtor. If you’re already struggling to pay that debt, having 25% of your paycheck taken every pay period and/or losing your car or house will make matters much worse!

If you’re currently in that position, filing for bankruptcy in Louisville, KY can potentially be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It won’t permanently ruin your credit, and most people can rebuild their credit within two years after being discharged from bankruptcy.

Just as importantly, filing for bankruptcy can drastically improve your mental health by improving different areas of your life. Here are three ways that happens:

1.) Filing for bankruptcy can help you achieve your long-term financial goals. If you’re expanding your family and want to buy a bigger house, or you want to pursue your passion and go back to school, having a massive amount of debt will stop you from achieving those dreams since you aren’t able to save money.

If you file for bankruptcy, you’ll be given the opportunity to create lower monthly payments toward your debt, which will give you more room in your budget. If you have very low income, you might be eligible to get rid of your monthly debt payments altogether.

2.) Filing for bankruptcy improves your job performance. If you’re currently in a position where you can’t pay back your debts, or can’t even afford the minimum monthly payments, your creditors will start to call and send letters demanding a lump sum. They may even tell you that they’ll sue you in order to legally take away your house, car, and the money in your bank account or paycheck (called a ‘garnishment’).

If you’ve received a garnishment notice, you’re probably under a severe amount of stress knowing that your paychecks will be affected. When you file for bankruptcy in Kentucky, you are immediately protected by the ‘Automatic Stay,’ which means that your creditors have to stop harassing you with daily phone calls, and also stop the garnishment process.

Again, once you’ve filed, your creditors can no longer legally contact you, and they can’t take money from your paychecks.

If you’ve been afraid of answering your phone due to constant calls regarding your unpaid debt, and if your job performance is suffering as a result, filing for bankruptcy will solve that problem.

It’s important to avoid the domino effect that comes with constant harassment from your creditors: your job performance suffers, then you’re at risk of losing that job, which means losing your income.

If the phone calls stop, you’ll sleep better at night, you’ll feel less anxious, and you’ll be able to focus at work. Speaking of focus, there are other important things that you’ll be able to focus on too…

3.) Filing for bankruptcy will help you focus on your relationships. Did you know that one of the main reasons that married couples get into fights (and eventually divorce), is because of finances?

Whether it’s the stress of not being able to pay bills, or differing opinions on how to budget money, your relationships can suffer greatly when your mind is consumed by the stress that comes with massive amounts of debt.

If you feel sick from the stress, your relationships with your children, extended family, and friends will suffer too. In turn, that can have a domino effect where those around you start to feel depressed and anxious since they want to help, but feel powerless to do so.

Filing for bankruptcy lifts that weight off of your shoulder, and helps you focus on building healthy, happy, trusting relationships with your loved ones.

The bottom line? When you’re in over your head in regards to debt, and you file for bankruptcy, you’re making the decision to prioritize your mental health ~ and you can’t put a price on that.

If you want to find out if you qualify for a Louisville bankruptcy, and get advice about whether or not it could improve your situation, I’m here to help! I offer free consultations, either in person or over the phone.

The best part? You’ll be able to talk to me directly. You can text me or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

Financial freedom could be right around the corner, and I’d love to help you get there.

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch, Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

holiday gift louisville ky

3 Ways to Avoid Using Your Credit Cards for Holiday Gifts

3 Ways to Avoid Using Your Credit Cards for Holiday Gifts

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Here are 3 practical ground rules that will ensure that you have the cash for your holiday spending.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, there are lots of things to plan for — holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and of course, presents.

Since the holidays will look somewhat ‘normal’ compared to last year, many people feel obligated to make this year’s Christmas or Hanukkah one to remember. While that’s an admirable goal, it doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.

According to a recent poll conducted by Credit Karma, about 33% of Americans have already admitted that they plan on racking up debt this holiday season by paying for their holiday gifts with credit cards, knowing that they’ll have to pay off those balances for months afterward.

While emergencies (medical issues, home repairs, etc.) are understandable charges to put on your credit cards, are holiday gifts really worth going into debt? As a bankruptcy attorney, my answer is a firm ‘no,’ and here’s why:

What if you end up having a medical emergency, or some other emergency in the near future? If you don’t have a ‘rainy day’ fund, and you needed to use your credit card, would you have a big enough credit line to cover the cost of those bills, or would your gifts take up most of that available credit?

In order to avoid that stress, and to fully enjoy the holiday gatherings with your family and friends, here are three ways to ensure that your credit cards will stay safely tucked into your wallet when it comes time to buy your gifts:

Remember: Holiday gifts should not put you into debt!

1.) Do a gift exchange.

If you have a big family, such as multiple siblings, in-laws, and so on, buying a gift for each of them is going to make a huge dent in your paycheck, or worse, force you to charge your credit cards. And chances are, it’ll be that way for the majority of people in your family too.

This is the perfect time to be transparent, and to let people know that you love them, but just can’t afford to buy all of them gifts. While it may seem like a ‘Debby Downer’ thing to say, most of your family members will probably be relieved, as they’ll most likely be in a similar situation.

You can end the conversation on a positive note by offering an alternative so that each family member still gets a gift: Doing a gift exchange! You could put each person’s name on a piece of paper, fold it, put it in a basket, and have everyone draw names.

You can also put a spending limit on it: For example, only spend up to $100 on the person whose name you chose. That way, everyone gets a gift, and no one has to go broke or rack up debt on a credit card by spending that amount of money on every person in the family.

If you have young children, you’ll probably want to get each of them a gift, so a happy medium would be to do a gift exchange with all of the adults in the family (the spouses, aunts, uncles, parents, and/or grandparents) so that you’re only buying a gift for one adult, and then buying each of your children a gift.

2.) Narrow down your recipient list, and limit the number of gifts.

Even if you decide to do a gift exchange with your family, you may be tempted to buy for friends, co-workers, neighbors, and so on. While it’s thoughtful to want to do so, it’s important to narrow down your list of people who will receive a more expensive gift.

A nice gift for your best friend or a co-worker who you eat lunch with every day might fit into your budget, but more than a couple of people will start to get really expensive.

If you still want to acknowledge other friends and acquaintances, a plate of homemade cookies with a handwritten note is a generous gift that won’t cost you hundreds of dollars. Homemade gifts are just as thoughtful, and can allow you to spread the holiday joy without maxing out your credit cards.

3.) Turn down credit card offers from department stores.

In November and December, department stores offer special discounts if you open a line of credit with them. In order to avoid the temptation, remind yourself that these store credit cards come with very high interest rates, such as 22.99% – 27.99%.

It’s important to remember that because even if you get 15% off of your purchase for opening a line of credit with a department store, you might end up paying way more in interest if it’ll take you a long time to pay it off. For example, if you spend $800 at a store, and you get 15% off for opening a credit card, that’s $120 in savings, which makes your total $680.

However, if it’ll take you a year to pay off that $680 (let’s say you can only pay about $60 a month), and your interest rate is 27.99%, you’ll end up paying about $190 in interest. So you saved $120 for opening the card, but then you’re paying $190 for the ‘privilege’ of using that card.

So your grand total for those gifts ends up being $870, even though the initial balance without the 15% discount was $800. Is it worth it to pay $70 more dollars in the long run, and also make monthly payments for an entire year, when you could be using those monthly payments to pay your bills or put into a savings account?

When you think about your long-term financial goals, it’s best to not let holiday spending get in the way of achieving those goals. Since there’s still plenty of time, it’s good to start budgeting and saving now, so that when you have to buy gifts in the several weeks, you’ll have a solid game plan that leaves your credit cards untouched, and your life stress-free.

Do you have other ways that you avoid debt during the holidays? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section of our Facebook post! For additional tips on how to avoid overspending during the holidays, click here!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Do you have an overwhelming amount of debt? Do you want a fresh start? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

personal loan louisville ky

5 Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Unemployment Insurance Fraud

5 Steps to Take if You're a Victim of Unemployment Insurance Fraud

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Protect yourself and your loved ones from further fraudulent activity by taking these 5 important steps.

If you live in Louisville, KY, and recently received a notice regarding unemployment payments, but you never actually applied for unemployment and never received unemployment checks, that’s a red flag that needs to be addressed immediately.

If someone applied for unemployment benefits using your name and social security number, then you have become a victim of identity theft. UI fraud (Unemployment Insurance fraud) has become more prevalent since the start of the pandemic, and many fraudulent applications have been submitted.

The first thing to do is to contact the Kentucky unemployment office to make sure that they didn’t send you a letter in error. Sometimes system errors do occur, and the unemployment office may have accidentally mailed you a letter and/or checks due to a social security number or name being improperly entered into their database.

You can call the unemployment office at (502) 564-2387 to inquire about this.

If the office verifies that benefits were applied for and/or received by someone under your name and social security number, it’s important to act quickly to avoid any additional fraudulent activity.

Here are 5 immediate steps to take if you’ve been the victim of unemployment fraud:

1.) Obtain an updated copy of your credit report. As a consumer, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every year. Click on this link to get your free annual credit report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

Look at your report closely to make sure there are no new accounts or lines of credit that have been fraudulently opened in your name. If there are, then that’s further confirmation that you need to do an immediate freeze on your credit, which leads to the second step.

2.) Initiate a credit freeze. A credit freeze is also called a security freeze, and it prevents new lines of credit or new loans from being open in your name. This can be done by contacting all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) through their online credit freeze pages.

Click here for Experian: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Click here for Equifax: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/

Click here for Transunion: https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze

3.) Create a fraud alert through one of the credit bureaus. When you create a fraud alert through one bureau, they have to contact the other two bureaus to make them aware. This adds another layer of protection, and the fraud alert is active for one year from the time you establish it.

I recommend contacting Equifax for the fraud alert, as they will contact Experian and Transunion. Click here for Equifax’s ‘fraud alert’ page: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/

4.) Contact these 3 government agencies. It’s important to contact the following agencies to make them aware that you have been a victim of unemployment fraud:

– Kentucky Labor Cabinet (Online Form for Reporting Fraud) at https://secure.kentucky.gov/FormServices/UI/Fraud 

– Federal Trade Commission (Online Form for Reporting Identity Theft) at https://www.identitytheft.gov/Assistant

– U.S. Department of Labor at 1-800-347-3756

5.) File a police report and obtain a copy. Since unemployment fraud via identity theft is a crime, you can report it to your local police division. They will send the report to the department that handles financial crime, and will assign an officer to your case.

After you’ve filed the police report, the Louisville Metro Police Department will provide you with a free copy of the report if you request one. Send an email to LMPDincidentreport@louisvilleky.gov, and provide your name, email address, home address, phone number, and the reference number that you were given for the report.

These five steps are a vital way to ensure that no more fraudulent activity will happen under your social security number. Taking these measures also starts the process of removing fraudulent activity from your credit reports.

**Here are some additional steps that you can take if you’ve received unemployment checks, but never applied for unemployment benefits:

Void and return the checks that you’ve received in the mail. Make copies of the checks, then write “VOID” on each of them, and mail them back to the unemployment office. Be sure to mail them via priority mail so that you can get a tracking number. Mail the checks back to this address:

Office of Unemployment Insurance

500 Mero Street #4SC

Frankfort, KY 40601

Print and/or save copies of all documents! Whenever you fill out online forms for reporting fraud, be sure to print the confirmation pages that have reference numbers or save those pages as PDFs (it’s best to do both). Also, keep copies of all voided and returned unemployment checks, as well police reports, affidavits, credit reports, and credit freezes.

If you know someone who has been the victim of unemployment fraud, please feel free to share this article with them. Working together to protect one another is the best thing we can do!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Do you have an overwhelming amount of debt? Want to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Call or text for a free consultation.